Who is a farmer?

Feb 12 2014 0 Comments Tags: farm

Following on from my post “the truth about farming”, I wanted to discuss the meaning of the word farmer, because I few people in the comments thought that they weren’t farming. As you can see from my alias, I consider myself a farmer, and I consider anyone who is growing any food to also be a farmer, whether they live on 100s of acres or in an apartment.

eight acres: who is a farmer?


The word farmer can mean someone who profits from raising livestock and/or cultivating land, but it has a broader meaning, as someone who farms. And a farm can just mean a place where livestock are raised and/or land cultivated. That means that if you grow something to eat by cultivating land, even if its just a few pots of herbs, you are a farmer.

I don’t want to take anything away from farmers who do earn a living from their work, I think farmers are amazing, hard-working people, and we are all lucky that they want to dedicate their lives to feeding the rest of us! However, I think its also helpful to empower everyone to realise that they can be farmers too, even if its just in small way, we can all grow something to feed ourselves. Being a farmer will help you save money, be an interesting hobby, and help you prepare for a situation where the food distribution system fails.

Something else that find interesting is the different words used to describe small-farmers in different countries.  In the US, the term is "homesteader", which has a history in the Homestead Acts that allowed people to settle small areas of land for subsistence farming.  In the UK, the term "small holding" is used.  In New Zealand or Australia, its common to call small farms "hobby farms" or "lifestyle blocks", which I find a little demeaning.  I was wondering what the equivalent historical term was for Australia, and I realised it is "squatter".  The squatters were ex-convicts who gained rights to use crown land by being the first to occupy it, first illegitimately, and later it was a word for legal occupants.  The meaning has now changed slightly to mean all longterm owners of large rural properties, so it doesn't really apply to small farmers, and I don't think it would catch on anyway!  Unfortunately we don't really have our own suitable word, so I just call ourselves small farmers.

So are you with me, are you a farmer too?

Not sure where to start? Try my interview series with other bloggers about getting started with growing your own, with chickens and with homestead dairy.



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